Martin leaving after 21 years of planning

Colleagues call Laguna Beach's principal planner, Carolyn Martin, the "housing queen."

Martin, 57, came to city government on loan from Irvine to help displaced residents navigate the rebuilding process after the 1993 Laguna firestorm.

What started as a contract position turned into a full-time job.

She retired earlier this week after 21 years with the city, time that included several feats that Community Development Director John Montgomery spoke of Wednesday during a going-away party at Mozambique restaurant.

Martin, of Corona del Mar, started with the city as an associate planner and was eventually promoted to principal planner. She

developed an information guide on starting a business in the city and also served as substitute zoning administrator overseeing Design Review Board hearings, according to a copy of Montgomery's speech.

She worked on the view, hedge height and second residential unit ordinances as well as the development of the Laguna Beach Community and Susi Q Senior Center and lifeguard headquarters buildings. Martin was also the lead planner on the 30-unit artist live-work project in Laguna Canyon.

For many years, Martin was the staff liaison to the Housing and Human Services Committee and worked on several housing projects, including Alice Court, a 27-unit low-income facility at 450 Glenneyre St.

Martin has also updated the city's housing element, a state-mandated document that describes how Laguna will preserve and expand housing options for residents, and developed the city's fee in-lieu program, which grants relief from parking code restrictions under certain circumstances.

"This is bittersweet for her, her work family and the public she has helped," Montgomery said. "She is smart, thorough, a problem-solver, hardworking, diplomatic, organized and analytical. At times she can be exasperating because she is so stubbornly dedicated and professional."

Planning Manager Ann Larson worked with Martin for 20 years.

"It's gong to be a huge hole to fill," Larson said. "She is unbiased, does her job and doesn't treat anyone differently."

Martin is retiring to handle some health issues, but would like to stay involved on certain projects.

"[Laguna Beach] is a great place to be a planner," Martin said. "I've been fortunate to work on great community projects."

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World